Avoid controversial topics like politics and religion in your marketing

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There are subjects that should not enter into your company's marketing because they are too controversial.

For many organizations, politics and religion are topics to be avoided (unless you work at an issue-based nonprofit, for a political candidate or elected official, or at a church).

Another touchy subject is sex. There may be others in your market.

Most organizations should avoid politics and religion

I've been a subscriber to the Publishers Weekly email newsletter for many years because I like to keep up with what's happening in the book business.

I was surprised this morning to receive an email from PW with the subject line PUBLISHING PEOPLE FOR OBAMA. The email was one big image (reproduced below) which links to a landing page on barackobama.com

I can't figure out for sure if PW sold their list to the Obama campaign or if PW is supporting the President’s reelection. (I think they sold the list).

Either way, I think this was a mistake for PW to venture into politics like this.

Seth Godin says that an email list is permission marketing - "the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them." PW subscribers like me give PW permission to contact us. We can just as easily revoke that permission if we are offended.

If you are in the business of renting your email list, you need to be very careful who you allow to use it. When doing your own marketing, you need to consider the ramifications of alienating people who not share your beliefs.

Note -- this is a marketing blog, not a political one. I am not talking about the merits of the presidential candidates here but rather the marketing aspects of this example.